(Last year I completed a 3-year qualitative research inductive analysis exploring Facebook and the experiences of 11 counselors who were using Facebook as a platform for communication. Specifically, it answered the question: “What are the experiences of career counselorswho use Facebook for counseling?”. Here are some of the findings, results and my recent thoughts.)
Is Facebook or Instagram now becoming the norm or our main source of communication and information? If you answer yes, you are not alone. Around 68% of American grown-ups say they get news via social media, as indicated by . We can also see a big change on how teens communicate. About messaging, trailed by face to face at 32 percent. In 2012, face to face (49 percent) topped messaging (33 percent). Social networking has turned upside down how we communicate, get information, even dating, shopping, and so on. But it has made a hole in doing some of these things. But what I want to examine is the responses from my last year’s 3-year qualitative research inductive analysis exploring Facebook and the experiences of 11 counselors who were using Facebook as a platform for communication.
As Facebook’s algorithm and settings continuously evolve, further research focusing on using social networking sites and Facebook for career counseling will unexpectedly update my research in 2015. The initial findings from my analysis contingent from the recorded interviews of the 11 career counselors have shown that there is no balanced conclusion or even a model supporting that Facebook or social media is a useful tool for career counseling but a very valid way to communicate and receive information. Whether or not it is reasonable to use Facebook in mainstream counseling, considering that the privacy issues, timeliness, and effectiveness is beyond the scope of my previous research but I would like to share my thoughts on how Facebook may or may not be valid way on how we communicate in business or personal setting more than telephone, email or face-to-face. Here is why and how we can do it more effectively:
Be Mobile, Get Fast But Be Alert
One reason why Social Media (in this case Facebook for the Xenials or Generation X - the age median of the study participants) is so effective is because it is mobile, and the technology attached to it (such as WiFi or 5G) is getting faster. Would we rather make a phone call and get an answering machine not knowing when we will get a response or sometimes we forgot the actual voicemail we left behind? Unlike in private messages, we can see what we wrote and share a supplemental information that can be referred back again and again during the later conversation. In my research, one counselor likes the idea of having a supplemental resource and can always get back to his client based at any time of the day that you cannot do it over the phone or even email that is sometimes block with spam. His advice, use Facebook for expediency or convenience but with caution and still make a phone call and take advantage of the technology.
Follow the Routine and Get in with the New Generation
A second reason why Facebook is so effective is because it may be the preferred method for the New Generation who relies on mobility (powerful phone) and technology (apps and cheaper data signals) that goes with it. Most of the clients of those 11 counselors I have interviewed (back in 2015) are between the age of 25-40 and most of them are proficient in using smartphone applications including Facebook. In most cases the clients (or Sailors) contact their counselor using the Private Message and most recently, you can see them post questions on counselor Facebook group page that is usually happening in a face-to-face counseling session such as: “Am I eligible to earn my GI Bill Transfer if I leave the military after 4 years?” that not only gets a faster response but vouch with other counselors for accuracy.
This is sometimes cannot happen faster or even receive more accurate answers over the phone, email or face-to-face. But this is not guarantee. The best way to get a full accurate information is to use the Group Page then also use the Private Message for confirmation and seek outside conversation by phone. We should ask the preferred communication of the person we are speaking to or how often they uses that medium.
Know Your Settings and Use it Often
Most people I have observed uses Facebook just to scoop information and no interaction. There is a disadvantage to that if using it as communication tool. Practice makes perfect and this goes to using for two-way conversation. Being professional, polite and positive in our comments and postings should not only encourage conversation but lead into positive resolution, as an alternative ways to communicate.
On my research, a counselor preferred to use email for direction and phone by confirmation but uses a Facebook Counselor group page to communicate with colleagues for advice. Facebook & other social media such as LinkedIn or Instagram - continues to evolve as tool, one research concluded that the actual potential of any new technology, such as social media, can only be fully actualized in social work if the professionals can take a more hands-on role in both general usage and technology development (Chan &Holosko, 2017).
Other Findings & Final Thoughts
Based on my eleven interviews in 2015 and recent findings from others who had some social media research similar to mine, such as Pedersen,Naranjo, and Marshall (2017) demonstrated that Facebook could be used to communicate, approach and retain a diverse sample of young adult veteran drinkers who could benefit from alcohol intercession efforts. Drogos’ (2015) research revealed that adolescents who utilize Facebook more frequently have more multifaceted self-concepts than their contemporaries who post fewer status updates; teenagers who posted more pictures had stronger self-concepts than the individuals who displayed fewer photos.
The number of Facebook consumers has dramatically increased since its inception (Hanna, Kee, & Robertson, 2017). In today’s working environment, with the intention to communicate and reach one another and despite the cynical suspicions, this research suggested that the use of Facebook or social media within the work environment could advance positive forces at work (Hanna et al., 2017). In my view, Facebook nor any other social media is not yet the main source of how we can talk and listen but social media continues to evolve and should be investigated. The best way to investigate and be explored is we should use it recurrently but wisely, that means use our Facebook setting accordingly and treat it like how you communicate face-to-face, how you email and how you use your voice telephone.